Anaconda celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
By Pfc. Abel Trevino
28th Public Affairs Detachment
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — People from all walks of life celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month at the Sustainer Indoor Theater Oct. 9. Speakers addressed a responsive audience on the achievements of Hispanics in the military and performed a demonstration of the some of the culture's dances.
1st. Sgt. Frank Casares, 961st Quartermaster Company, coordinator of the event, commented that the most difficult and time-consuming part of the celebration was gathering photos for the various slideshows. He felt the end product was well received by those who attended.
"Because we're in a combat zone, we didn't get as much participation [as we could have]," Casares said.
The effort was not overlooked.
"I thought it went well," said Lt. Col. LeRoy Ontiberos, 172nd Corps Support Group, deputy commanding officer. "I was especially pleased with the presenters and the dancers."
Lt. Col. Rolando Rodriguez, 172nd CSG, spoke on Hispanic statistics in the military, including the numerical amounts of Soldiers and casualties in various wars since the Civil War.
His presentation was followed by Capt. Roberto Ramos, 172nd CSG, who recounted the circumstances and actions of Medal of Honor winner Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez.
Benavidez was a staff sergeant in a Special Forces unit in Vietnam when a reconnaissance unit came under heavy fire.
Benavidez volunteered to go with the extraction team, and after receiving serious injuries, continued to help the wounded and dead and secured classified documents. After one of the extraction helicopters crashed, he assisted in unloading the wounded, securing a perimeter while rallying the spirits of the men to continue fighting.
He then called in fire support to suppress enemy fire on the down position to allow another extraction helicopter to arrive to attempt to lift the Soldiers. He guided the helicopter to the landing zone area with smoke grenades and assisted in loading the dead and wounded, all while receiving serious injuries. For his courage, bravery and valor, above and beyond the call of duty, he was presented with the Medal of Honor.
Staff Sgt. Rigoberto Rubalcaba, 961st QM Co., introduced the final part of the event, the demonstration of two different dance styles.
Eight dancers demonstrated the dance styles of Merengue and Cuello for the audience. The spectators were encouraged to participate in the activities. The event was aimed to highlight the sacrifices of Hispanics while showcasing some of the culture.
Casares said he wanted to remind Hispanics of the proud culture they are a part of.
"It took many hours [to coordinate]," said Casares. "Sgt. [Norma] Lopez did a wonderful job considering they didn't have the resources to decorate the theater."
Hispanic heritage month runs annually from Sep. 15 to Oct. 15, to coincide with the anniversary for the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18.
Hispanic Heritage Month was originally recognized in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson as National Hispanic Heritage Week and expanded to a month in 1988.
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Spc. Yessinia Barrios, 512th Maintenance Company, and her partner Sgt. Roberto Trigueros, 512th Maintenance Company, demonstrate the Merengue alongside Pfc. Yesenia Javier, 299th Forward Support Battalion, and her partner Sgt. Marvin Lazo, 512th Maint. Co., at the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the Sustainer Indoor Theater Oct. 9.